Am I the only one who feels uncomfortable with movies like this one?

As I sat and watched I am Ichihashi, I kept wondering why they made the film in the first place.  After all, it’s about a brutal murderer—a real brutal murderer who wrote a book about himself and the murder called Until I Was Arrested.  And by publishing this book and making a movie, it serves to make a star out of a vicious degenerate—especially since he seemed to make a lot of excuses for his evil behavior.

In 2007, Tatsuya Ichihashi raped and suffocated a young British woman who was teaching English language classes in Japan.  The crime seemed to have little, if any, motive–Ichihashi simply wanted to rape the woman and he suffocated her with a pillow to quiet her.  He was spotted running from the scene and he evaded the police for a long time until he was ultimately captured, tried and given a term of life in prison.

I Am Ichihashi: Journal of a Murderer
Written & Directed by
Dean Fujioka
Dean Fujioka, Takashi Nishina, Shin’ichi Tsuha
Release Date
Martin’s Grade: D+

I am Ichihashi picks up just AFTER the murder (thank goodness—I certainly did not need to see the crime re-enacted) and continues to Ichihashi being interrogated by the police two years later.  During this time, he lived in a variety of places doing either day labor of living on a small deserted island—none of which was particularly interesting.  In fact, almost nothing about his time on the run is fascinating at all.  What COULD have been a lot more interesting had it been included more in the film were Ichihashi’s self-performed plastic surgery in order to make himself less recognizable!  Yes, much of the work done to change his appearance was done without anesthesia and by Ichihashi himself.  The film shows some of this and avoids the gory details—but how far he was willing to go would have made the film a bit more grisly and extensive but it would have provided at least SOME interesting content.  As it is, watching a nearly sleepwalking character in episodic vignettes of him surviving on his own is pretty boring stuff.  Plus, as I mentioned above, it draws attention to Ichihashi—making him some perverse sort of star.  I’d have rather the film focused less on this worthless person and instead on the pain caused the victim and her family.  Or, perhaps had it focused on the investigation or reaction by the Japanese public.  Why is it that so many of us are fascinated by this sort of mind junk that draw so much attention solely on a horrible person?

If I ignore the fact that I have moral objections to the film begin made in the first place, the film is a very mixed bag.  Fortunately, as I mentioned above, the film did not get off on the rape and murder—that’s a huge plus.  But without SOME sort of action and some sort of dramatic tension, the film just seems incredibly bland.  It might be accurate, but it still is very bland and is a film you’ll probably have trouble completing.  Not a terrible film, it isn’t a good one either.

During WWII, a common phrase that the US government used had to do with saving gasoline for the war effort.  On billboards, the phrase ‘was that trip necessary?’ was plastered…and the same can be said for this film.

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer

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